Why I Need My Online Mom Tribe

As I write this, a mom in one of my online moms groups is venting about her son’s open heart procedure coming up later this month. Another is complaining about her mother in law {oh wait, that was me} and a dozen others are writing about their major {or minor} life issues going on. I know more about the hundreds of women I connect with online than I do about the twenty or so women I’ve been in a PTA group with for three years. Why is that? Why is being in an online moms tribe more convenient and comfortable than actually telling your problems to the real live women in your real life lives? 
When I got pregnant with my first in 2012, I did everything I could to research pregnancy and being a mom. I was so excited and nerdy, but books didn’t really cut it for me. What did cut it was an online blog called Pregnant Chicken. The name captivated me, but not as much as the humorous content. That led me to the Facebook page and the recently created {at the time} support group the Mama Chick, Amy Morrison, created called :: “Ask The Chicks”. Ask The Chicks became my lifeline {and the lifeline for so many others} and I grew up in the Mommy world with this new tribe. From this one spawned others just like it until I found my online mom tribe. 
Why I Need My Online Mom Tribe | Houston Moms Blog
At HMB, we have a support group for our contributors where we connect and share “the stuff” going on in our lives. We also have the Conversations and Community group on Facebook that connects Houston moms.  The same thing happens in each of these groups :: we find solace in each other while getting things off of our chests. 
My mom and I play this game a lot, “justified or crazy?” Usually it’s me asking her if I am justified in being mad about something or if I’m completely crazy. I feel like this is the game I play with my online moms tribes too. Sometimes I have to bounce ideas off of people that I don’t see everyday. Now my mom is different because she is stuck with me, but imagine if I asked a mom in real life that I have to see often if it’s crazy that I’m mad at my husband for putting his socks next to the laundry basket or if my kid should be eating cheeseballs for the 17,000th time that week. Of course the answer would always be CRAZY!!

Why I Need My Online Mom Tribe | Houston Moms Blog

Why I Need an Online Mom Tribe ::

They are great to bounce ideas off of :: 

When I was finishing up my Master’s degree, I needed an interesting way to “kill off my husband” in a writing class I was taking. I found the best ideas through them. When I need an idea of what to do with my kiddos, they are there. When I need to play my continuous game of “Crazy or Justified” to find out if what I am feeling is crazy or right on point, they are there!

They don’t know me IRL, so I feel safe saying what I need to say :: 

There’s a perceived anonymity in online moms groups. If I have a question or comment, I don’t feel judged. I can ask about the weird spot on my skin or tell them about why I’m mad at my mom and there’s no judgement. No matter what, they don’t know me so I don’t have to live with the fact that they know personal details about me every single time I see them. On the flip side, I had dinner with some mom friends from my girls’ preschool last fall and we all dished about husband issues we were having and now that’s all I can think about when I see them in the halls. When I wrote my article about my mother-in-law, I knew there was a possibility of it getting back to her {and it’s fine if it does}, but imagine if I posted a rant about her on my Facebook :: it would be mayhem. 

Yet, we all keep up with each other and know each other {probably better than our IRL friends} :: 

Every once in a while in the mom groups, someone will remember a mom having a hard time and tag her in a post to catch up with her. “Hey Friend, I know you were having a hard time with abc. How are you doing now?” They legitimately get worried when someone who posts a lot isn’t posting for a while. On the real life side, I have women I consider my best friends that I haven’t talked to {plus or minus a Facebook “Like” or Instagram comment} in months or that we only see when a birthday rolls around. It’s sad, really.

No judgement zone :: 

Again, if I want to complain about some particular aspect in my life, this is the place to do it. Despite our differences {geography, political, religious, to vaccinate or not?}, we find a grown-up way to talk it out and actually get to know one another. I’m not saying there’s not an outlier here or there that we have to get in check {it is a group of women, after all}, but for the most part, there’s no judgement. Just advice and a listening ear. 

We need help ::

You know, I’ve seen moms IRL post something on their Facebook feed and someone comments unhelpfully and deflates that momma. For example, a friend posted about potty training disasters and someone posted how easy it is to potty train; “Just do it the way I did it 20 years ago.” Well, mommas, we all know better than that. I don’t want to hear how easy it is for you. I don’t want to hear that I should “enjoy these days” because they are fleeting. “Don’t be mad at your child. They are only little for a little while.” Look, I don’t not love my child, Deborah. I just need to vent. I need help. Plus, in a group of thousands across the world {Australian, Britain, Germany, Canada, all over the United States} there’s bound to be someone going through the exact same thing at the exact same time. 

Making friends IRL is hard ::

Let’s get real. For me, making mom friends is hard and worse than dating. At least with dating, you can end it if it’s not working out and move on with your life. With finding mom friends, you never know where someone is in their life. Do they need more mom friends? Will they like me? Am I too loud and crazy? Am I talking too much {probably}? Will their spouse like me {or my spouse}? I have some friends I have known for almost a decade and one of their husbands does not like me. I haven’t seen or talked to her in a very long time. She was one of my best friends. I met a mom with two kids similar in ages to mine randomly at a Katy/Fort Bend Foodies event and she and I have become very close. The more we talk, the more we really like about each other, but the second time we hung out, I was so nervous about what I was wearing and if I would talk too much. My husband and I made up a safe word {strawberry} if we were being “too much.” Online, it’s not so hard. Pants and make-up not required. 

Why I Need My Online Mom Tribe | Houston Moms Blog
Our modern mommy lifestyle is very isolating, no matter who we are. Chasing a career or staying at home isolates you from your strongest relationships. Being able to tap into a social group- no matter geography, socioeconomic status, career type, age, number of kids- is amazing. This shared experience of motherhood bonds us. And, yes, most of these tips I got from my mom’s group. It makes me feel better that it’s not just one or two people that know my life, but instead it’s a whole tribe, seemingly going through the same kind of drama that I am and understand that sometimes I gotta eat M&Ms in the bathroom hiding from my fighting children or that tell me it’s super cool to call a babysitter just to have a moment of peace alone outside of the house. It doesn’t feel like I am being mommy-shamed or judged, it just feels like I fit.
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Jennifer H
Jennifer is a native outside-the-loop’er growing up and living in the Richmond/Rosenberg area. She has a Bachelors in theology and political science from Texas Lutheran University and a Masters in Liberal Arts from Texas Christian University. She and her husband Greg met in 2010 through Match.com and fell in love on their first date. They married exactly one year later and have fought lovingly and constantly since. They have two amazingly brilliant girls, Kaitlyn {June 2013} and Elizabeth {June 2015} who Jen stays home with during the day. When Jen is not curled in a little ball rocking back and forth with Peppa Pig on in the background, she can be found crafting with her Silhouette and/or binge watching The Office for the millionth time. Jen has an uncanny ability to be comfortable in almost any situation put in front of her, thanks to growing up in politics and on the debate team. Before having kids of her own, she had the opportunity to help other kids through teaching, youth ministry, and generally being a helpful, kind soul. You can check out more about Jen on IG @themommymiddle.


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